Sunday, May 23, 2010

la dolce vita (the sweetness of doing nothing)

We closed out our Roman adventures by renting 2 cars to drive to the Tuscan countryside. Being in Europe, the cars were manual transmission. Being carefully trained in a 1992 Geo Prizm in high school, I was one of the few qualified drivers for the Fiat Punto.

After a warm-up drive around the rental car parking lot (oh, that light means the parking break has been on), I was ready for the roadway. Things were jerky but fairly uneventful. I didn't have to drive through Rome, but the winding, narrow country roads, the town piazzas (GPS says turn left, I say that's a 5-ft wide alleyway), and the washed-out, muddy ascents from our off-the-beaten-path rental home to the main road got me very acquainted with negotiating first and second gear.

In the end, everything went well with the car. We did have a slight hiccup one day when we filled the tank with regular instead of diesel fuel. A 2-hour wait for siesta to finish, a ride with an Italian tow truck driver, another 2-hour wait at a car shop in no-where Italy, and $400 later, we were back on the road.

Besides being in a car, here are other things we did in Tuscany.

Lucignano, the nearest town to our lodgings (we stayed in a villa on countryside castle grounds).

Dinner prepared by our Italian cook, Amela, who came 3 out of the 7 nights we were there.

In the Punto.

Some of the countryside.

More of the countryside. This is a small town called Cortona. It sits atop a hill, looking out over the valley. Abe and I spent an afternoon alone there, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

Us being happy.

Us eating Gelato from Snoopy's. Nutella flavor wins again.

This is a 2-way road.

Many evenings spent by the fire playing Rook.

Abe cooking popcorn over the fire.

Lake near the villa - I couldn't get over how beautiful the clouds were. It rained every day in Tuscany, but usually cleared up in the afternoons. Considering we never woke up before 11am, that worked out pretty well for our schedules.

Kids locked out of the house while parents on day trip. Chris climbed up and through an open window.

Skyline of Florence. We only spent about 5 hours here, mostly hitting the 2 major museums to see Michaelangelo's David and a collection of some of the most famous paintings from the Italian Renaissance. Which was exactly what I wanted to do with only 5 hours in Florence.

We also managed to get some street kebabs and gelato (twice, actually. favorite flavor: half dark chocolate and half caramel).

The duomo.

I loved the colors of the buildings here. Abe and I have taken inspiration from our trip and will paint our nursery in a Tuscan palette (warm yellow walls, red-orange and sage green accents).


Dawn said...

The sweetness of doing nothing is often a skilled not learned until one is MUCH older than the two of you! I'm glad you had that experience and can appreciate it. Loved the "going in the window" photo! And the one of you two "being happy."

Love Tuscany. Love love love it.


Margaret said...

Gorgeous, and what an awesome family vacation! It sounds perfect, and wonderfully laid back.

We can very much sympathize with the gasoline incident - we accidentally filled our car with regular instead of diesel in Scotland, resulting in a two day wait time. Who would have thought that not all mechanics are qualified to handle GASOLINE? (Seriously. Apparently in UK you have to have a special hazardous substance license for such things).